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Fri, Apr 22, 2005

FAA Language Puts Historic Aircraft Restorations At Risk

EAA, along with its Vintage Aircraft Association division, is objecting strongly to language in a proposed FAA rule change that would jeopardize future historic aircraft restorations. The proposed rule's preamble, specifically, would prohibit a historic aircraft that had been destroyed - as indicated by National Transportation Safety Board reports - from being rebuilt and receiving a type certificate to operate as a standard category aircraft.

In its written comments to FAA presented this week, EAA and VAA said that there is no evidence of a safety concern with aircraft restored after receiving substantial damage or even being deemed totaled by an insurance company. The NTSB actually has no definition for "destroyed" as used in its reports, and is considering dropping the term from aviation accident reports.

"There are many, many examples of beautiful aircraft restorations taking place from a few remaining aircraft parts or what are commonly known as 'basket cases,'" said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president of industry and regulatory affairs.

"In addition, FAA is using language in the rule preamble to create policies that should be handled through a regular rulemaking process, which includes full economic and safety effects. The agency, in this case, is circumventing its own process."

EAA does not have any objections to the specific changes within the rule (14 CFR 21 and 91) that are proposed; the strong objections are only with the preamble language. Contrary to some reports, the rule change would not completely ground or halt the restoration of such aircraft. It would, however, subject the restored aircraft to more restrictive categories such as Experimental/Exhibition.

It is important to note that the proposal does NOT affect aircraft restorations of aircraft that have never been classified as "destroyed or totaled", and removed from the FAA registration database.

"There are two wrongs in this proposal that need immediate correction," said H.G. Frautschy, executive director of the Vintage Aircraft Association. "First is FAA's impression that the full restoration of a 'destroyed' type-certificated aircraft cannot be considered a 'used' aircraft for certification purposes. Secondly, and perhaps more threatening, is FAA's use of preamble language to create language that is open to wide interpretation and will not only cause confusion, but hinder safe and successful restoration of many wonderful aircraft in the future."

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.eaa.org

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